Why are tech professionals more likely to have disagreements with leadership?

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As businesses recognise the importance of technology for their survival and prosperity, the demand for tech professionals has grown significantly. More than ever, companies are realising the value of having in-house tech talent and the positive impact it has on their bottom line and company culture.

That's why it comes as such a surprise that tech professionals are three times more likely to have frequent disagreements with leadership in comparison to their peers in financial services, healthcare, and other sectors. The discovery was made in Reflektive's latest Performance Management Benchmark Report, which was developed to gauge the impact on programs and sentiment from managers and employees during the pandemic. The report is also a follow-up to its 2018 counterpart.

So, how and why do tech professionals find themselves in regular disagreements with their leadership teams? We spoke with Carrie Vick, Director of Customer Success from Reflektive, to find out more.

Thank you so much for joining us! For clarity, could you start by telling us what exactly the report investigated and how the report characterises disagreements?

We worked with a third party to conduct the survey, asking similar questions to our 2018 survey. The report aimed to uncover performance management trends over the past two years, as well as insights into the current state of work. A lot has changed since 2018, and we wanted to measure and understand these changes. 

For HR professionals and business leaders, questions were specific to performance programs they put in place, whereas for employees we inquired more around sentiment on the programs they used. We also asked respondents across industries, which allowed us to benchmark the tech industry to financial services, healthcare, and other sectors.

Great! Let's get into it then: what were the key findings with regard to tech respondents?

One of the key findings is a strong appetite for feedback across all industries. Since 2018, there has been a 170% increase in the percentage of leaders & HR professionals who expect managers to offer feedback to direct reports daily, with 89% increase in the percentage of employees who want formal performance conversations monthly or more frequently.

In regard to the tech industry, HR and business leaders are more likely to have a data-driven approach to performance programs:

  • 78% of tech respondents are using people analytics to predict employee performance, which is 56% higher than the peer average.  
  • 77% of tech respondents are using people analytics to predict employee turnover, which is 48% higher than the peer average. 

Technology firms also seem more comfortable with data and expect to rely even more on technology in the future. In the next six months, 48% of tech respondents expect more investment in technology, which is 37% higher than the peer average.

Why do you think tech professionals are subject to more disagreements and disconnect with leadership?

The survey found a need to improve company alignment. Tech respondents were 3X more likely to have more frequent disagreements with leadership and 1.7X more likely to say it's harder to stay aligned with their team.  

It may be a sign employees are feeling insecure and uncertain. Employees have been impacted in different ways, and many employees have come into additional responsibilities or unexpected pressures.

I recommend regular and frequent company-wide communications. For example, if you have a team meeting, follow up with an email communication, slides and the recording (if available), so employees have that information on hand. It's also important your managers hold regular 1:1 meetings, so they can better understand and support employee needs. The most successful companies will be those which prioritize company-wide communications and manager-employee dialogue.

Can disagreements ever be healthy, and if so, how/when?

It's perfectly healthy for disagreements to arise, particularly for companies with a culture of feedback and recognition. Discourse is normal and oftentimes when managed well, lead to better solutions and positive outcomes.

What action do you advise for businesses and tech professionals where disagreements are common?

I recommend a company training on conflict management skills. This training is beneficial for all employees to arm them with the tools to turn disagreements into opportunities.